Ever have one of those moments when you just want to throw in the towel? When life is too hard or too messy and it feels easier just to crawl back to bed, pull the heavy blanket over your head and go to sleep rather than to face the monsters in the closet?
This year my wife and I turn 50. Yep, the big 5-0. Some say life begins at 50 and some say that 50 is the new 30, but the only thing I can think about is this: Where did I go wrong? How will my wife and I survive when we get older and have no income? What will we have to show for our lives when our daughter is all grown and ready to move out? Lots of questions in my mind and I know if I try to examine them all I will get depressed and anxious, back under the covers and unable to face the realities of life.
In 2007 my wife and I started over from scratch. We had both just left long term gay partnerships a few years prior to meeting, and we both walked away from those relationships with little to nothing in regards to financial security. In many respects we were 20 years behind our peers. We had few savings, no cars, no houses or children. So when we met we had a lot in common . . . nothing. We both were starting life from scratch. In our interactions we seemed like innocent teenagers enjoying silly things like jumping on swings, going to see movies like Akeelah and the Bee and held hands while we shared popcorn. We stayed up late talking and dreaming of the future, not necessarily planning ahead. Now almost nine years later, we sense that we are again starting from scratch.
Many people start over in life. They lose jobs, homes, marriages, health or financial stability, and some rise above these hardships and some fail to thrive. We rose above many things in our lives and in our marriage, but we have also faced a lot of suffering and loss. I can’t begin to describe how miscarriage threw us into a tailspin of sorrow; and if that wasn’t enough, we then began facing the reality of chronic illness. Even though we are the best of friends and we love each other dearly, we both began coping in our own ways. I flew off the handle financially. The more I tried to budget the less I felt capable of handling the weight of responsibility of actually doing it. I wanted it to be perfect, and so when I messed up I’d feel guilty and emotionally paralyzed. It became one of those monsters in my closet that I’d rather not face. I began realizing that this behaviour was reminding me of my past. For years I used sex as a way of coping with any emotion that I had. It was a place where I would go to get a good feeling. When I met the Lord I began working through those sinful behaviours and slowly I had the strength to stop, because of God’s love toward me. Now I realized that my overspending was much like acting out sexually. It became like a drug. The harder I tried, the more disappointed I got until I came to a place of surrender.
Surrender I did. I am thankful that our God is a gracious and loving Father who does not treat us like we deserve. Yes, there are consequences to our actions, but even in this place he is always willing to help us in any situation we face. This is true for me too. This year is a year of starting from scratch. It’s a year of beginning to believe that I can make mistakes that will be the very launching places of growth and strength. It’s a year of growing in responsibility and having the maturity to face life’s challenges head on. It’s a year of acknowledging the emotions that lay under the surface of every situation and beginning to live free of coping strategies. So wherever you find yourself at the start of this new year, know that it is never too late nor is there any shame in starting over again.
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